Implementing a SOAP API with PHP 7

20 Nov 2017

Table of contents


It’s 2017/2018 and you’re probably wondering why I’m blogging about this topic, aren’t you? I’ll tell you a secret: XML is not dead. No, it’s more important and necessary than ever.

“XML is crap. Really. There are no excuses. XML is nasty to parse for humans, and it’s a disaster to parse even for computers. There’s just no reason for that horrible crap to exist.” Linus Torvalds

Just because it comes from Mr Torvalds does not necessarily make it right.

XML is great, because it is the first time that a good standard has been set up to exchange data in a structured, machine-readable and validatable manner with minimal issues.

JSON has its excellent use cases too, e.g. for browsers communicating via Ajax to the server.

But how to validate JSON payload against a schema?

Conceptually, RESTful API’s where never designed in such a way that you need JSON-Schema for it.

Instead of a schema, only examples are usually used.

In the last years it became more and more polpular to use the (Swagger) OpenAPI Specification, which defines a standard, language-agnostic interface to RESTful APIs which allows both humans and computers to discover and understand the capabilities of the API. Of cource there are hundreds of libs, and quite a few interpret things completely differently than others.

A SOAP API is better suited in a larger enterprise context to ensure standardized and strong data structures between server-to-server communications.

Creating a SOAP Endpoint

The endpoint is the URL where your service can be accessed by a client application. To inspect the WSDL you just add ?wsdl to the web service endpoint URL.


While in .NET it’s very simple, in PHP you need some extra work to get a SOAP API working.

I chose the Zend SOAP library because it’s compatible with .NET clients.


Install the zend-soap library:

composer require zendframework/zend-soap

Let’s create a simple hello world webservice.

Create a php file api.php that acts as a SOAP endpoint.


// api.php

require_once __DIR__ . '/vendor/autoload.php';

class Hello
     * Say hello.
     * @param string $firstName
     * @return string $greetings
    public function sayHello($firstName)
        return 'Hello ' . $firstName;


$serverUrl = "http://localhost/api.php";
$options = [
    'uri' => $serverUrl,
$server = new Zend\Soap\Server(null, $options);

if (isset($_GET['wsdl'])) {
    $soapAutoDiscover = new \Zend\Soap\AutoDiscover(new \Zend\Soap\Wsdl\ComplexTypeStrategy\ArrayOfTypeSequence());
    $soapAutoDiscover->setBindingStyle(array('style' => 'document'));
    $soapAutoDiscover->setOperationBodyStyle(array('use' => 'literal'));
    header("Content-Type: text/xml");
    echo $soapAutoDiscover->generate()->toXml();
} else {
    $soap = new \Zend\Soap\Server($serverUrl . '?wsdl');
    $soap->setObject(new \Zend\Soap\Server\DocumentLiteralWrapper(new Hello()));

Open the browser to check the WSDL file: http://localhost/api.php?wsdl

Creating a SOAP Client

Create a new file client.php.

File content:


require_once __DIR__ . '/vendor/autoload.php';

$client = new Zend\Soap\Client('http://localhost/api.php?wsdl');
$result = $client->sayHello(['firstName' => 'World']);

echo $result->sayHelloResult;

The result (response) should look like this:

Hello World

As result you will receive a stdClass instance:

class stdClass#4 (1) {
  public $sayHelloResult =>
  string(11) "Hello World"

It is possible that your PHP static analysis tool (e.g. phpstan) has a problem with calling $client->sayHello(...). The reason is that this method does not exist and is called internally via a magic method. To avoid this warning there is a simple trick. Instead, call the web service methods using the $client->call(method, params). In this case you simply pass the method name as a string. Note that the parameters must be passed in a double nested array.

This is the wrong way to use the call method:

$result = $client->call('sayHello', ['firstName' => 'World']);

This example leads to the following error:

Fatal error: Uncaught SoapFault exception: [env:Receiver] Too few arguments to function Hello::sayHello(), 0 passed and exactly 1 expected in zendframework\zend-soap\src\Client.php on line 1166

In this way, the call method is used correctly:

$result = $client->call('sayHello', [['firstName' => 'World']]);

Creating a SOAP Client with C#

Now, the simplest way is to generate proxy classes in C# application (this process is called adding service reference). There are 2 main ways of doing this. Dotnet provides ASP.NET services, which is old way of doing SOA, and WCF, which is the latest framework from MS and provides many protocols, including open and MS proprietery ones.

Now, enough theory and lets do it step by step.

  1. Open your project (or create a new one) in visual studio
  2. Right click on the project (on the project and not the solution) in Solution Explorer and click Add Service Reference
  3. A dialog should appear (Add service reference). Enter the url (http://localhost/api.php?wsdl) of your wsdl file and click the Go button.
  4. Now you should see a HelloService (name may vary). You should see generated proxy class name and namespace. In my case, the namespace is WindowsFormsApp1.ServiceReference1, the name of proxy class is HelloPortClient. As I said above, class names may vary in your case.
  5. Go to your C# source code. Add using WindowsFormsApp1.ServiceReference1.
  6. Now you can call the service this way:
ServiceReference1.HelloPortClient helloClient = new ServiceReference1.HelloPortClient();

string result = helloClient.sayHello("World");



Hope this helps.

And now have fun creating your own SOAP webservice :-)

Known issues

If you’ll encounter any issues, please create a detailed error description in the comments section.

It doesn’t work on my machine


this code sample never Runs!!!

I want to use GET/PUT/PATCH methods

Is it possible to convert SOAP into a RESTful?

Can I use that in Laravel / Symfony / Slim / Framework X too?